When the time comes to buy new heating and cooling equipment, it’s important to remember that this decision is not quite as simple as buying a new plug in appliance, such as a stove or refrigerator. Your HVAC is a system, meaning that it has many components that all work together and are dependent on each other, and dependent on many outside factors such as climate in your area, size of your home, etc.
The process of purchasing a new heating and cooling system is what I like to call an “engineered event”. It should be done using certain calculations and taking many factors into consideration. When you do it right, you’ll end up with the most efficient, comfortable system for your home.
In order to make an informed HVAC buying decision for your Northeast Ohio home, 3 main factors come into play:
1. Limitations of your current system
2. Fuel type/cost and type of system that will work for your home
3. Sizing the new system
When we talk about the limitations imposed by your old system, we usually mean what it will take to either upgrade or switch over to a new type of system. It’s something to think about when purchasing new heating and cooling equipment. If you want to go from electric baseboards to forced air for example, you should know that there will be a significant cost involved in adding ductwork and changing out components. Switching to hot water baseboard heat will require extensive plumbing. If you’d like to add a feature to your current system, such as adding air conditioning to your current forced air system, the A/C system must be matched to your current ductwork.
When selecting a fuel type, you need to consider the cost and availability of the fuel (or energy source) in your area. In some areas, for example, electricity costs are very high. So, your cost to operate the system will be higher. There are ways to calculate your fuel costs, and we’ll cover that in upcoming posts. In Northeast Ohio, most people use either oil, electricity or natural gas, but other options are becoming more common, such as passive solar and geothermal. Of course, cost is only one consideration. Efficiency is another, and you should look into how efficiently your new system uses its fuel. Over time, an energy-efficient system will save you money on your fuel bill and actually pay for itself.
Sizing your new system properly is another important part of your HVAC purchasing decision. An improperly sized system will wipe out any energy savings you could realize from installing high-efficiency equipment. It’s also likely to result in more breakdowns and higher operating costs. An oversized system, for example, not only costs more to install, but also results in less comfort and possibly reduced indoor air quality.
Another important consideration is the installation itself. Industry studies routinely uncover brand new systems that are achieving a fraction of the rated capacity and efficiency that the unit is supposed to be delivering. The main variables that deteriorate performance are: the original design is poor, the airflow is inadequate, the refrigerant charge is not accurate or the ductwork leaks. Finally, once the system is installed regular preventative maintenance is also key to maintaining performance.
There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to buying the right HVAC equipment for your home. In upcoming posts we’ll discuss each of these points in greater detail so that you can make an informed decision when the time comes to replace or upgrade your current heating and cooling system.
P.K. Wadsworth services the Greater Cleveland, OH area including cities Chagrin Falls, Shaker Heights, Eastlake or anywhere in between. To get started, check out our website.